I have always been fascinated with signs and messages from the universe. When I was TTC and then pregnant with Amalia, I saw ladybugs everywhere, almost daily. One even landed right on my stomach just before I went into labor. What looked like a stork (actually a blue heron) walked across our yard as I was telling Anel about my fear of getting induced a few days later (I went into labor the next day).
When we bought our new house, and we were worried about selling our old house in time for the contingency, I found a dead baby bird on the steps of our old house and when I searched for the meaning, Google told me this:
Dead birds actually are a good sign, showing you that an end to turmoil or pain is coming. A dead bird doesn’t necessarily portend physical death, but metaphorical death. Perhaps you’re going through the heartache of a break-up. Perhaps you are struggling to find a job. This dead bird marks the end to your search and struggle. A new beginning is just around the corner. More specifically, it symbolizes the end of something and the start of something else. (source).
That day, we got the offer that we ended up accepting.
I have dozens of stories like this. The list goes on and on. So yeah, I’m always looking for signs. And have become somewhat obsessed with it. If you’re into it too, I highly recommend the book Signs: The Secret Language of the Universe by Laura Lynn Jackson.
Here’s a story full of signs for you… the story of my deleted IG handle as promised.
Last week I was taking Boots for a walk and a deer followed us for maybe 15 minutes. It was eery. She was just staring at me the entire time. Historically, deer have been a sign of patience for me. Whenever I see one that stares at me like that, something happens where I need to practice patience.
That day, I decided it was time to change my Instagram handle from @lemonstripes to @juliadzafic. It’s something I had wanted to do for a while because my ‘gram has become more than just a way to promote this blog. I have been trying to move on from only posting feel-good content to talking about issues that are important to me on the platform. So the name change felt fitting for whatever reason.
I changed my @juliadzafic account to another name so I could then change @lemonstripes to @juliadzafic. But it kept telling me that @juliadzafic was already taken so I thought I had to delete the entire account (I have since learned that there is a 14 day period where one account can’t take another account’s name to prevent bots from stealing names).
So I Googled how to permanently delete an Instagram account. You are sent to a special page where you have to confirm the decision a bunch of times with a text confirmation to your phone. It’s not an easy thing to do! But I signed out of @lemonstripes, signed into @juliadzafic, and went through the steps. As soon as I clicked the final button, a screen popped up that said “@lemonstripes is permanently deleted” and I laughed, thinking there was no possible way.
After a minute of trying to log in dozens of times, I realized that it actually happened. I deleted the account that I’ve been building for years. The account that is providing almost all of my income right now. The one that has so many memories and conversations tied to it.
But I stayed calm for the moment, trying to figure out how to reach customer service. Turns out it’s not possible unless you have the account active which I clearly did not.
I texted every single person I knew who might have a contact at Instagram or Facebook. Two people introduced me to their contacts and I figured I would hear back from someone at IG at some point soon.
This happened at 1:30pm on Tuesday. I had a consulting call at 2pm. By the end of the call, I hadn’t heard anything and I started to panic. I didn’t hear anything that day or night. The next afternoon I got an email back from someone at IG asking me for some information they could pass along to get me a case to restore it.
I went to bed thinking it would be back up in the morning. But on Wednesday morning I still hadn’t heard anything so I followed up. No response. I was driving to the grocery store and asked the universe for a sign to tell me if it was going to come back or not. The second I asked for the sign, a car pulled in front of me with the license plate NOT EZE which made me laugh out loud. But a few hours later I saw a rainbow.
That night at 10pm I got an email from someone in customer service who told me they were working on it. I asked if it was fixable and they responded that every case is different and it started to sink in that I might never get it back.
My anxiety really pumped into full gear at that point. Anel and I spent a lot of time figuring out how I would rebuild a big portion of my business. Friends of mine with large followings offered to post on their feeds to promote a new account. And I felt like there was a real game plan if we needed it but the thought of losing a huge amount of income over the next few months and losing the content I’ve worked so hard to create over almost a decade felt not great. I went back and forth between accepting it and being furious at myself.
On Thursday night I was at a socially distanced beach birthday party when my friend Kelly texted me to tell me my account was back. I literally choked on my wine and checked. The sense relief I felt was unreal. I got up, danced around, called Anel, and we all celebrated!
Since then I’ve been thinking a lot about my reaction to all of this and why I was really so upset. Of course, financial stress was a huge part of it but it was more than just that. I’ve realized how much I tie my identity and, yes, parts of my self-worth, to social media. Which was a big wake up call. I knew it before, but I don’t think I ever grasped the extent to which it has controlled me and my life.
I don’t know what that means in terms of a change but something has to change. My horoscope on Thursday agreed:
Put in an effort towards overcoming any unhealthy merging of your identity into your work/career. You’re worth more than your productivity. (via Sanctuary World)
That felt like yet another sign.
So will I be changing my handle to @juliadzafic? I’m pretty sure this who debacle was a sign that I should keep it as @lemonstripes for a while longer, don’t you? As Anel said, when I tried to change it, @lemonstripes was like hell no, I’m still here!
I realized that being upset over a lost Instagram account with everything else going on in the world right now is ridiculous. People are dying from COVID. While the Black Lives Matter movement has made incredible strides, the systemic racism in our country is sickening. And the more I read and learn, the more I realize how omnipresent it is.
On top of it all, the upcoming presidential election feels like the saddest joke I’ve ever heard. While we’re here, please register to vote if you haven’t already.
My week was nothing in comparison to all of this. Trust me, I know that. At the end of the day, I’m a white woman with a large network of people in my corner. I would have been fine with either outcome. I see the privilege in that.